Contrast normative and positive descriptions of the managerial actions general counsel take

The difference between normative economics and positive economics comes from Deirdre McCloskey, How to Be Human Though an Economist (U. of Mich. 2000) at 62-63. As the distinction applies to managers of in-house lawyers, a normative view says whether a management decision is good or bad (practically, morally, financially, etc.). A positive view merely describes the management decision and its context, but does not evaluate it.

Stated differently elsewhere: “Positive theory attempts to describe the world; normative to offer prescriptions for action.” The latter version comes from William Breit and Barry Hirsch, Lives of the Laureates – Twenty-three Nobel Economists (MIT 2009) at 173 (William F. Sharpe speaking).

Much of this blog falls into the positive camp; I describe a practice or a perspective and stop. Relatively few of the blog posts here are explicitly normative; I am wary of recommendations out of context and best practices out of touch.

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